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Because sometimes it’s OK to talk to strangers

In this occasional series, OZY takes to streets and neighborhoods across the globe to ask a simple question: “How was your day?”

Hayes Hoey, 24
Lead singer of Atlanta-based band Slang
On tour

Today has been cold. But good. We woke ourselves up around 11:30 a.m. The five of us, everybody takes their turn on the floor from city to city. People have been kind enough to give us mats and couches to sleep on. Once you get into the flow of it, it’s not bad.

Last night we played in Washington, D.C., in the basement of this dive bar called the Pinch. The ceilings felt like they were 5 feet tall. The sound guy had more energy than a squirrel, playing techno music between all the shows, and he had this nice rattail. And a lot to say. The place definitely had an interesting smell to it. The bartender said it was some water damage inside the walls.

The first band that played were from Ireland or something. There was a burlesque dancer. And then there was a poet who read some of his poetry. There were only like 12 people there. So we just played for ourselves, really. You can’t always depend on the crowd for energy; you have to supply it yourself. That was the smallest crowd we’ve had. Typically, in Atlanta, we have more — but that’s where we’re from.

As a singer, naturally, I want to move my arms, hips and my whole body, and it flows and rolls. I kind of do whatever comes to me. We had a show at the start of the tour where a monitor got knocked off the stands, and it opened itself up for me to step on it. Onstage, I’m definitely influenced by David Bowie, Bryan Ferry and Nick Cave.

Our music can be fast, dark, but not too serious. For a really blanket term: rock. We’ve been described as post-punk and glam. All of us have some sort of Southern church experience in our childhood. That comes across.

It’s weird, man. I grew up, my parents divorced when I was really young, but they lived close and I was back and forth on a weekly basis. On my father’s side, it was a very conservative and traditional household — go to Catholic church on Sundays, don’t talk about your problems. It was not a very open communication type of place. It was a lot of Keep It To Yourself, and they really did have a mirage of perfection. On my mom’s side, it was a lot more open. I was able to express myself on that side. I learned how to be two different people.

I like that being on the road is uncomfortable. It jars you out of an everyday sort of life. It slaps you around a little bit. Your back hurts, you’re hungry, it’s cold, but that need, that absence of things that you want, that’s what I like about it. Doing music is vulnerable in its own sense. Performing something you created for people you don’t know, in a town you’ve never been to.

My goal, to be honest, is to just keep doing it.

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